T he insurance industry was battered in the recession, but most big employers still operate graduate schemes. The sector is broad, including areas people might not associate with insurance, such as running a theme park. Most employers value the "soft skills" of new entrants more than technical knowledge, including strong communication, analysis and problem-solving, negotiation and influence, flexibility, plus IT skills and languages.
Caspar Bartington, The Chartered Insurance Institute
"People wanting to find out more about insurance careers should visit discoverrisk.co.uk, which is aimed at 15-23 year olds and gives plenty of information about what it's like working in the profession. Some of the largest employers even have their graduate scheme details on the site.
"For school and college-leavers, apprenticeships are available at Levels 2 and 3, through which you will get our Certificate in Insurance qualification. These last 12-24 months, depending on the level and experience. The number of employers looking at apprenticeships is certainly rising.
"Graduate schemes often contain our advanced diploma (known by its designatory letters ACII), which is the best-known insurance qualification in the world – a bit like having a second passport."
Amanda Haig, Allianz Insurance UK
"Getting hands-on experience in business really improves employability and prospects in the graduate job market. It also helps graduates to hit the ground running when they join us. Out of the 30 we employed last year, a third of those had already taken part in the Allianz summer internship scheme showing that experience
"One of the most important attributes we look for is flexibility. On our most popular programme, graduates spend time in different areas before settling into one that suits them best. As a result, being able to fit in with new teams and roles is important.
"Allianz has offices across the world and some graduates have the opportunity to work internationally, so being willing to travel to experience different working cultures sends a powerful message to employers that a candidate is willing, literally, to go the extra mile."
View from the inside
Annelie Noble, Aon graduate scheme
"People always ask: why insurance? It's true that most people don't turn around at the age of 15 and say they always wanted a job in insurance – it's not exactly a vocation. But if you can think of something, there'll be insurance for it; and that includes marine, fine art, space and aviation.
"I've really enjoyed my time working in insurance. The London market is very personal and relationship-driven, so it's not boring.
"I had a week-long induction where we were taught everything there is to know about the London market so that we didn't feel completely out of our depth.
"After that, Aon's scheme is rotational, so I've done six months in retail (mainly sales and marketing), six months in directors and offices, and six months in international property.
"I'm hoping to stay in international property full time, and there might even be some travel to Singapore."